Boston Celtics: 2013Game19

Lee laments missed opportunity

December, 8, 2012
ESPN ScreenshotCourtney Lee has all sorts of space as he catches the ball on Friday.
PHILADELPHIA -- Some of his teammates had already showered, dressed, and made their way to the early bus before Courtney Lee had even removed his uniform in the Celtics' locker room following Friday's 95-94 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lee sat at his locker solemnly contemplating a missed corner 3-pointer that could have sealed a Boston victory with the team out front by a point and 25 seconds remaining in overtime. If the shot falls, it's a two-possession game and the Celtics almost certainly emerge with a gritty win.

Instead, Lee airballed the attempt, the 76ers pushed the ball the other way, took the clock down, and Evan Turner made a tough pull-up jumper over Lee for the winning points.

"We had a lot of opportunities and a lot of good looks, and they just didn’t go down. Especially mine," said Lee. "I know Doc probably talked to the media and said it was unfair that I was sitting for like 12 minutes, but it doesn’t matter. We're NBA players, we get paid to play this game, and I have to at least hit the rim to give us a chance to get an offensive rebound. I didn’t do that, so I’m very disappointed in myself."

Celtics veterans tried to rally around Lee, who has shown signs recently of emerging from his early season struggles. The team doesn't want his confidence to erode after he's made strides, especially because he could just as easily be in that same situation Saturday night.

"Keep your head up, we got a game tomorrow, it’s a long season," Celtics captain Paul Pierce said when asked what he'd stress to Lee. "I’m sure he’s going to get plenty of those opportunities throughout the season. Teams are not going to allow me, Kevin [Garnett] and [Rajon] Rondo to try to beat them, and there’s going to be opportunities for a lot of these guys. Keep your head up, and be ready."

(Read full post)

Letter of Intent

December, 8, 2012
The Boston Celtics are seeing progress as a team, but Rajon Rondo said it doesn't matter unless the team emerges with the W:

Rondo: 'I should have took the layup'

December, 8, 2012
ESPN ScreenshotRajon Rondo had a chance at a layup to win it, but slipped trying to pull up for a jumper.
PHILADELPHIA -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo lamented his decision to pull up for a baseline jumper on the final possession of overtime, admitting he likely had enough time and space to complete a potential winning layup.

Instead, Rondo airballed an off-balance 16-foot jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to escape with a 95-94 overtime triumph at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I should have took the layup," said Rondo. "I tried to make a plant and just slipped."

Rondo's inability to produce a key late-game hoop -- he missed a 19-foot step-back jumper at the end of regulation as well -- spoiled an otherwise outstanding effort. Rondo posted a ridiculous triple-double line of 16 points, 14 assists, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals -- joining only birthday boy Larry Bird (1982) and Magic Johnson (1983) as players to do that since steals and blocks became official stats in 1973-74, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

But Rondo wasn't in the mood for silver linings after the late-game miscues.

With 2.7 seconds remaining in overtime, Rondo delivered a lob to Kevin Garnett on the blocks. The play was designed to produce a shot for Garnett, who was 7-of-11 shooting with 17 points on the night. But Rondo keenly made a break for the basket when defender Evan Turner got caught tracking the trajectory of the inbounds pass. With LaVoy Allen hugging Garnett's hip, Rondo had a chance at the layup (there was about 1.7 seconds remaining when he took the handoff, as shown in the screenshot above), but Rondo was likely worried about the clock and attempted to plant for the baseline jumper. Instead, he lost his balance and couldn't get off a quality shot.

"I saw Rondo running hard and I thought he had a layup," said Garnett. "I kind of handed off to him and he stumbled -- stumbled out of bounds, end of the game."

Asked if the play was designed to get him a shot, Garnett reiterated: "I thought I saw something and I went with it. I thought [Rondo's] speed and momentum was going to a point where I thought he had the layup. ... I was indecisive, I should have been more aggressive in that situation. Things happen."

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: 76ers 95, Celtics 94 (OT)

December, 7, 2012
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsThe Celtics and 76ers met on the front end of a home-and-home Friday in Philadelphia.
PHILADELPHIA -- Rapid reaction after the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics 95-94 in overtime on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center:

Rajon Rondo produced the 24th triple-double of his career (and 19th on national TV) by posting 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds, but his night was upstaged by Evan Turner, whose pull-up jumper in the closing seconds of overtime capped a 26-point, 10-rebound effort and lifted the 76ers to victory in a seesaw battle. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting with five assists, four rebounds and a block over 45 minutes. Jeff Green added 19 points in a terrific effort off the bench for Boston. Jrue Holiday (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Thaddeus Young (17 points, 12 rebounds) helped carry the 76ers.

The Celtics were down 80-76 when Kevin Garnett went to the bench with 6:36 to play in the fourth quarter. Boston actually held Philadelphia scoreless for the two minutes that he was out and tied the game, setting into motion a back-and-forth finish. Green was immense at both ends of the floor, picking up the slack for a struggling Brandon Bass. Turner's little scoop finger-roll over Garnett with 49 seconds to play put the Sixers up 89-87, but Garnett responded with a 20-foot jumper with 7.7 ticks to go to tie the game for the 15th time. The 76ers threw away a potential final shot and Rondo's 19-footer hit back rim at the buzzer, forcing the extra session.

A Green 3-pointer put Boston out front 94-93 with 1:54 left, and that's where things stood when Courtney Lee pulled up for a corner 3-pointer with 25 seconds to play and a chance to deliver the knockout blow. The shot airballed and, making matters worse for Lee, Turner knocked down a pull-up 13-footer over him with 3.9 seconds to go at the other end. Rondo airballed a 16-footer at the buzzer with a chance to win it.

Rondo posted a ridiculous 10-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist first quarter, all but assuring the triple-double night. What's more, he made four of his first five shots from the floor -- a driving layup and three mid-range jumpers -- while accounting for eight of Boston's first 12 points. He didn't get his first assist until 6½ minutes in and quickly shifted into distribution mode with five helpers over little more than three minutes. By halftime, Rondo was up to 14 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists over a mere 18 minutes.

The Celtics didn't have a 20-plus point scorer in any of their previous four games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that was the longest streak since November 2003 and Boston had never gone five games without a 20-plus scorer in the shot-clock era. It still hasn't after Pierce got to that number on Friday night.

Ninety-six minutes over two nights just wasn't enough for these two teams, who spilled into the extra session in a game that featured 19 lead changes and 17 ties. Turnovers killed the Celtics as Philadelphia parlayed 19 Boston giveaways into 21 points. The sure-handed 76ers committed nine turnovers leading to a mere nine points. This rivalry gets less than 24 hours to breathe before the Celtics and 76ers clash again Saturday night, when they wrap up this home-and-home at TD Garden.

Pregame: Two-game playoff for C's-76ers

December, 7, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers reaffirmed his love of home-and-home series before Friday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, but admits he can see why other coaches might despise them.

Boston and Philadelphia meet Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, before a rematch on Saturday night at TD Garden.

"I like it, I’ve always liked it, [but] I think most coaches don’t like it," said Rivers. "I just have always thought it was very competitive, from a playing standpoint. You play the same team back-to-back, the game becomes very competitive, almost chippy. I enjoy that. So I like it. The downside to it is that it’s very, very hard to win both games. And I think that’s why most coaches don’t like it, but when it’s two good teams, it’s even more dangerous because you could lose both. It’s just hard, a hard way to do it. I like it, but I can see why most don’t."

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Celtics and 76ers have competed in 10 home-and-homes on consecutive days, with Boston sweeping four, Philadelphia sweeping two, and the two sides splitting the other four. Like a baseball doubleheader, it's usually a split when two good teams meet. The Celtics and 76ers enter with matching records and are plenty familiar with each other after a seven-game dance in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season.

"We’ve seen each other a lot lately, obviously," said Rivers. "The game plan is shorter [with a back-to-back], you know why they beat you and who beat you. You know what they are doing, then you’re going to have to try to stop it and they are going to counter that. But when you play the next night, whatever happens today, one team will have to get to work and try to change it, and the other team will try to keep it the same. It’s just fun, I enjoy it."

A few other pregame notes:

* Despite the virus that's spread in the Celtics' locker room recently, the team appears at full strength. Both Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger, who have battled the illness, appear ready to go.

* The 76ers are without Nick Young (left great toe hyperextension). But it's always great when Philadelphia coach Doug Collins casually drops a "Swaggy" reference while talking about Young as he did on Friday noting, "We’ve missed Swaggy for a few games now, so that hurts." Kwame Brown was also a game-time decision with the stomach bug.

* Rivers heaped praise on Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday, and sounded an awful lot like he was talking about Rajon Rondo as he complimented Holiday and suggested he was an All-Star.

"His shot set him free," said Rivers. "I thought he struggled early on [in his career], he was inconsistent. People were going under all of his pick-and-rolls, then he started making that shot, and now you have to go over the top of the pick-and-rolls and he’s splitting them, he’s getting to the basket, he’s making great decisions. But I think his shot is what allowed him to see the floor more now and make him so much more dangerous. The other part -- the part I love about him over the skill part -- he’s a tough kid. He comes to compete, every night. Doesn’t mean perfect game, he’s a tough guard for us and everyone because he’s stronger than he was, you can visually see that. But he’s just a tough kid, really good player. All-Star player."

Spotlight on Jrue Holiday

December, 7, 2012
Mark L. Baer/US Presswire
Jrue Holiday (left) and the 76ers will face Rajon Rondo (right) and the Celtics on ESPN Friday night.

It seems that most nights we focus on the point guard matchup and who is opposite Rajon Rondo. On Friday night in Philadelphia (and again on Saturday in Boston), the PG duel truly will be the spotlight matchup given just how much Rondo and Jrue Holiday have meant to their respective clubs. From our friends at TrueHoop:

Jrue Holiday might be ready to insert his name into the list of elite point guards in the NBA.

Holiday, who will lead the Philadelphia 76ers into their division matchup with the Boston Celtics on Friday (ESPN, 7 ET) is averaging career highs in points per game (18.2), assists per game (9.3) and player efficiency rating (18.5) this season.

If he keeps up this pace of 18 points and nine assists per game, he would be one of four players since 2000 to have those averages along with Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Deron Williams.

Even though Holiday is leading the NBA in turnovers with more than four per game, the 76ers as a team have the second-lowest turnover percentage (12.6). With a career-high usage rate percentage of 26, the turnovers are expected to be high. At his current averages, Holiday would join Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas (1986-87) and Magic Johnson (1988-89) as the only players with 18 points, nine assists and four turnovers per game for a season.

No team is dependent on one player to create their offense as much as the 76ers are on Holiday. He has been responsible for 43 percent of his team’s total points this season, which leads the NBA. The “points responsible for” statistic includes offense generated from assists and points scored.

Second on that "points responsible" list? Rondo at 41.4 percent for Boston.

Hop HERE to read the full story on Holiday at TrueHoop.

W2W4: Celtics vs. 76ers (Game 19 of 82)

December, 7, 2012
AP Photo/Michael DwyerCourtney Lee and the Celtics will look to fend off Jrue Holiday and the 76ers.
The Boston Celtics (10-8, 4-4 away) kick off a consecutive-day home-and-home series with the Philadelphia 76ers (10-8, 6-5 home) on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Here's what to watch for:

* LET'S PLAY TWO!: Celtics coach Doc Rivers has dubbed it a mini-playoffs as the Celtics and 76ers meet in the rare regular-season back-to-back. And these two teams are no stranger to one another after last year's enthralling seven-game battle in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Philadelphia has emerged as quite the thorn in the Celtics' side and Rivers knows it. "I’d like to just beat them once, because they’ve handled us," admitted Rivers. "I’d like to beat them both times, but they’re playing well against us and we’re going to have to deal with that. They must have great confidence against us. So those are going to be hard games. I do like [the home-and-home], especially in this stretch. Coming into it I think we’re starting to play a little bit better. We’ve struggled playing Philly, so I love all that stuff because that’s good, the way I look at it in my demented way. I think those are all good things. I think it’s a good challenge for us, so it’ll be a lot of fun."

* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: Despite being one of the worst teams in the league offensively -- the 76ers rank just 28th overall while averaging 0.854 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data -- Philadelphia did hang 106 points on Boston during the first meeting this season. They are the best team in the league running isolations and rank in the top 10 in spot-up shooting, so the individual talent is obvious. The Celtics will still need their recent (and more familiar) brand of defense to muddy this one up. The 76ers rank fourth in the league, allowing a mere 0.873 points per play and Lavoy Allen has been a real headache for Boston's frontcourt players (he ranks in the 95th percentile among all defenders, allowing 0.667 points per play).

* DIVISION BY SUBTRACTION: The Celtics are essentially tied with Philadelphia for third place in Atlantic Division, but things aren't even that rosy. Not only has Boston already lost once to the 76ers this season, but it has two losses against second-place Brooklyn. And the Celtics haven't even got a taste of those Heat-beating Knicks and their glossy 14-4 record. Winning the division isn't a big deal for Boston -- it has far loftier goals -- but the more important part of these next two games is showing it can beat a team that will be in the playoff mix. The Celtics have few quality wins this season, particularly in the East, and showing signs of trending in the right direction recently, these two games are a nice chance to gauge where Boston is actually at. We'll let point guard Rajon Rondo bottom line it: "For us every game is big. Our record is not where we want it to be, so every game counts and every game is big.”



Jared Sullinger
14.1 2.2 0.7 28.8
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsE. Turner 4.4
StealsM. Smart 1.1
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.7